“Big Mouth” has found its new Missy.
Two months after Milton native Jenny Slate announced she would depart the Netflix animated comedy because “Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people,” Variety reported that writer, producer, actor, and comedian Ayo Edebiri will step into Slate’s role as biracial teenager Missy.
Edebiri announced the news on Twitter on Friday morning.
Edebiri, who had already joined “Big Mouth” as a writer for season five of the show before landing the role, told Variety that she related to the character of Missy, a nerdy bookworm who, much like the other characters on the coming-of-age show, grapples with the awkwardness of puberty and adolescence.
“I was definitely a very uncomfortable child, so I think the show speaks to that and a lot of those feelings, which still resonate with me as an adult,” Edebiri said. “I’m back home in my childhood bedroom right now and on my bookshelf in between ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ is Bill Clinton’s autobiography and Nelson Mandela’s autobiography and a translation of ‘The Iliad’ in Latin. I was a true dork. So I don’t think I have to go too far to connect with Missy.”
Slate announced her decision to leave the show in June, writing on Instagram that she felt she was “engaging in an act of erasure of Black people” by playing Missy, and that leaving the show was “one step in a life-long process of uncovering the racism in my actions.”
“As I look back on the nature and emergence of my own voice in comedy, I know that I have made mistakes along the way,” Slate wrote on Instagram. “I can’t change the past, but I can take accountability for my choices.”
Because Slate did not decide to leave the show until season 4 of “Big Mouth” had mostly completed production, Edebiri will only begin appearing as Missy in the penultimate episode of the season. The show has also already been renewed for its fifth and sixth seasons.
“The transition is a nice farewell to Jenny in that moment, too, in a way,” Eldebiri told Variety, saying she wanted to both honor Slate’s performance while bringing her own voice to the role. “The voice I found is also because of the work Jenny did, too.”